Pittsburgh Peregrine Update, Early April

Dorothy with one old egg, 3 April 2014 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

Today’s post is long but with eight nest sites there’s a lot of peregrine news in Pittsburgh.  Some sites are exciting, others are boring (incubation), but that’s par for the course in early April.

Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh: We have the best falconcam ever at this site but only sad news to watch. At 15 years old, Dorothy laid one egg on March 20 and then stopped. She was egg bound but expelled it on the night of March 29-30. E2 continues to court and bring her food.  Dorothy stands over the egg but never incubates.  For now she waits. See her here.


Dori and Louie take turns at the nest on the Gulf Tower (photo from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower)
Gulf Tower, Downtown Pittsburgh: This nest exchange snapshot sums up the happy status at Gulf Tower right now.  After two years on a short building on the other side of town, the peregrines came home to Gulf where we can watch them on camera.  We’ve confirmed this pair is Dori (banding name “Mary Cleo,” Akron, 2007) and Louie (Cathedral of Learning, 2002) who last nested here in 2011.  This spring Dori laid 5 eggs March 10 to 19 and began incubation midday March 17 just after her fourth egg, so we expect hatching to begin April 19 to April 21.  We’ll zoom in the camera soon so you can watch for pips.  See them here online.  (*Donate at the link so we can get a better camera! Mark your donation for “Conservation and Field Research Department” and write “Gulf Tower camera” in the comments.)


Peregrine at Green Tree water tower, 1 April 2014 (photo by Leslie Ferree)
Green Tree water tower:  Green Tree has had a complete changeover in resident adults this year.  Last year Dorothy and E2’s daughter Blue was here with an immature unbanded male. This year Shannon Thompson confirmed the female is unbanded and the male has bands.  On April 1 Leslie Ferree captured this photo of one of the adults hiding his/her legs.  The pair has been very active, eggs are in progress, but so are intruders.  Over the weekend Jill Dunmire noticed the male is missing three primary wing feathers, probably because of a fight.  Photographers, please visit this site.  Let’s identify the male. Click here for directions.


Neville Island I-79 Bridge (photo by Robert Stovers on Wikimedia Commons)
Neville Island I-79 Bridge:  This bridge was over the top with excitement last Sunday.  Anne Marie Bosnyak witnessed an intruder scuffle (right over her head!), a food exchange, and e-chupping from the likely nest location.  The last time she saw the pair mate was on March 31 so they are probably on eggs.  Who knew it could be so exciting? Click here for information on where to watch, though it might be boring now with incubation underway.


Peregrine at Tarentum, 28 March 2014 (photo by Steve Gosser)
Tarentum Bridge:  Speaking of boring, only one bird has been visible at a time at Tarentum since the third week of March.  Observers usually see the female, Hope (from Hopewell, VA, 2008).  If this pair is on the same schedule as last year the eggs will hatch a few days after Gulf Tower’s, around April 22 to 24.  But this is only speculation.


Peregrine looking inside a hole on the McKees Rocks Bridge, 31 March 2014 (photo by Leslie Ferree)
McKees Rocks Bridge:  There’s no news from this site except:  On March 31 Leslie Ferree photographed a peregrine looking into the holes in the bridge structure.  Was it looking for a pigeon meal or visiting its own nest?  See the tiny red circle above.  (update: Leslie Ferree answers my “Is it the nest?” question in the comments below.)

Monaca/Beaver bridges:  This elusive pair has chosen the big Monaca-to-Beaver railroad bridge as their home. They were seen copulating on February 23 and flying around the bridge on March 29, but other than that there’s no news from here.

Westinghouse Bridge:  No peregrine news at this site but plenty of people news:  A woman went missing under the bridge and a firefighter was killed by a train during the search. Then our keen observer, John English, hurt his foot and hasn’t been able to visit.  Here are his instructions on where to watch.  Please visit if you get a chance.


April’s both exciting and boring.  It’s a good time to get out and watch.

(photo credits:  Cathedral of Learning: National Aviary falconcam, Gulf Tower: National Aviary falconcam, Green Tree water tower: Leslie Ferree, Neville Island Bridge: Robert Stovers on Wikimedia Commons, Tarentum falcon: Steve Gosser, McKees Rocks Bridge: Leslie Ferree)


10 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Peregrine Update, Early April

  1. Kate, I think we know where the nest is for McKees Rocks. It was looking in that hole, but it had flown into the gusset plate, the large horizontal rectangular structure to the right of that hole, and another flew out. Yesterday (Mon.) one flew in with food and landed closer to the western end, and after eating it began calling and flew back into that same gusset plate. Then it or another dropped lower onto a beam. I was soaked so I had to leave, but I bet now that the plate is the nest site. Thanks for the article!

  2. ” Speaking of boring, only one bird has been visible at a time at Tarentum since the third week of March. Observers usually see the female, probably still Hope (Hopewell, VA, 2008). ”

    Hope/69Z is confirmed! Steve Gosser got multiple pix confirming the band # 69Z on Friday evening March 22nd, when I was there with him. The best is one of her standing in a beam with her head showing in the upper hole, and her legs showing in the lower hole.

    I’m not sure if this pic made it onto Falconuts, so for everyone’s benefit, I put it on my website temporarily.

    See http://roboftheriver.tripod.com/Hope69Z-032214-SG.jpg

    Also, in going back over Leslie Ferree’s pix from Feb 23rd, it’s possible to say with certainty from the facial/neck pattern, and the red coloration of the right leg band that she photographed the male. Unfortunately, we still don’t have a band # confirmation 🙁

  3. I wish I had a better camera, Rob. There are much better photographers out there, and I know they could do a lot better than me. Greentree in particular has some show-off falcons.

    As far as Greentree, I submitted another photo of the same falcon taking off to Falconuts, and you can see the bands on his legs, but it’s probably not clear enough for numbers.

  4. Poor Dorothy and E2. 🙁 She’s a good old girl. It’s very exciting to see the younger generation coming up, and perfectly natural to see Dorothy in her older years, but it’s still sad. Good old girl.

  5. What will happen to Dorothy and E2? How long will they keep coming to this nest as the egg will never hatch. At times it is totally unattended but early in the week she was incubating it so it is like she doesn’t really know what to do.

    1. LuAnn, Dorothy and E2 will remain at the nest even though the egg won’t hatch because the Cathedral of Learning is their home. Dorothy has never incubated the egg, only stood over it. E2’s hormones are still flowing so when he normally takes his turn at incubation in the early afternoon he sits on the egg for a while. When Dorothy returns she does not. The egg will never hatch.

  6. Kate, I don’t know any other way to get hold of you but if you aren’t aware – there was a horrible territorial fight in Toledo where Belle is nesting. It was a nest box fight with her and an intruding female. Belle survived but seems to have an eye injury or near the eye and the other female was quite bloodied up as well.

    Toledo has photos and details on their Facebook page which I’ve linked here for you.


  7. It is sad to watch. I am amazed at how attached I have gotten to these birds. I get so sad when eaglet 3 doesn’t get what I think is enough food 🙁

  8. FYI: I saw an adult peregrine on the Westinghouse bridge again today 04/19. Same spot as last time. Good sign…

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